The Life that Swings

Recording careers and world tours long behind them, two senior citizen jazz musicians find themselves still making music at unlikely venues.

By | April 9, 2013

Nearly every day for the past thirty years, Maurice McIntyre has taken the subway from his studio apartment on St. Ann’s Avenue in the South Bronx to play his saxophone on the Grand Central and Union Square train platforms. On good days, his saxophone case fills with $40 to $60 in small bills and loose change. At seventy-seven years old, Maurice hasn’t even entertained the thought of not working.

“I’ll work till I die,” said Maurice, who suffered a heart attack three weeks ago at his home and has been hospitalized since.

At the height of his career in the 1960s and ‘70s, Maurice led his own band, recorded and toured internationally. Then jazz clubs began closing their doors and opportunities disappeared with them.

“Musicians don’t have the option of retiring,” says Marianne Pillsbury, communications and musician programs manager for Jazz Foundation of America, a nonprofit that provides relief and assistance to jazz and blues musicians. “The single biggest issue musicians everywhere face is finding work. Finding the next gig.”

In an average year, the Jazz Foundation of America helps around seven hundred musicians and their families by providing or connecting them with services, ranging from crisis relief to social, medical and legal resources. It also gives musicians, like sixty-nine-year-old piano player Roy Meriwether, a weekly venue to jam with other musicians.


These 4 Women Are Taking on a Politician Near You

The coalminer’s daughter. The bartender. The police brutality activist. The grieving mother. Each looked at the man representing her in Congress and said, “I can do better.”


The Collector of Time

As Mark McKinley puts it, “no collector ever says, ‘I’ve gone too far.'” After 27 years and an official Guinness World Record, he stands by that statement.


The Saviors of Saffron

Three young Spaniards are reviving the farming tradition that flourished in their grandparents' generation.


An Aging Mother’s Animated Love Letter to Her Autistic Son

“Who would look after him if I wasn’t here?” and other questions this mom asks herself every day.


Courvosier Cox Knows He’s a Superstar

Meet a teenage actor-singer-comedian with absolutely no doubt that his tumultuous adolescence will soon give way to Hollywood fame.


A 360° View of India’s Gravity-Defying Pole Wrestlers

Get up close and personal with the athletes of the reemerging ancient pastime of mallakamb, in Narratively’s first 360 film.


This Breathtaking Greek Fireworks Battle Puts Your July 4th to Shame

Once a year, residents of this mountainous island gather at two churches on opposite ends of town and launch 100,000 handmade rockets — directly at each other.


Penny’s Ex-Husband Realized She’s a Woman. But They’re Still Best Friends.

When Dee came out as a transgender, it meant the end of her marriage to Penny. And that’s when the empowering journey for both women truly began.


The Nomadic People Caught in the Crosshairs of China’s Economic Boom

As Chinese investment turns this mineral-rich region into a cash cow, does the Southern Mongolian culture have any hope of survival? A few families are willing to fight for it.

Get your Narratively Neverending Storytelling Swag Bag. Become a Patron today. ×